The new app, which is currently in testing mode, is aimed at encouraging constant sharing between people and their “close friends”. Close friends is a feature on Instagram in which you can assign friends to a specific list and only share certain videos and images with them, away from your main set of followers.
Using the new Threads app, users can share their location, speed and battery life with the designated close friends, as well as the normal things like text, photo and video messages. The battery life feature, in particular, is thought to be an idea borrowed straight out of the Snapchat playbook; the ephemeral messaging app features several stickers allowing users to brag about how little battery they have left.
Facebook has form in taking ideas from Snapchat. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly offered the app’s founder Evan Spiegel $3 billion (£2.45 billion) back in 2013, but the offer was refused. Instead, several Snapchat features ended up in Instagram, such as Instagram Stories, geofilters and the ability to draw on images.
What looks to be different about Threads is the idea of automatic sharing. By opting in to this feature, the app will regularly offer updates on your location and status, as well as the ability to update a status manually. Whilst it might be creepy that Facebook is tracking you all the time and sharing it to your friends, apps like Find My Friends have had such success that something like this could work.
The focus with Threads appears to be on messaging, however, something Zuckerberg said was the future of Facebook at the company’s annual F8 developer conference earlier this year. Instagram was reportedly working on a separate direct messaging app, similar to Facebook Messenger, however, it never made it passed the development stage.
Instead, the Instagram direct messaging and Messenger teams have merged in recent months – which could be a further instance of how Facebook wants to combine the messaging infrastructure of Instagram, Facebook and its other app, WhatsApp.